Every now and then I am shooting a job and someone looks at my camera and says,"wow, I bet I could take some great pictures with that camera." Now they are not trying to insult me but they apparently have a grave misconception that a camera is the only factor in getting a great photograph. Well here we have proof that 144 years ago people were able to take a great photograph with a heavy wooden box, fragile negatives and dangerous chemicals in the middle of a war. It is not the camera.
August 1864. "Petersburg, Virginia. Group of Company B, U.S. Engineer Battalion." Photographs from the main Eastern theater of war, the siege of Petersburg, June 1864-April 1865. Wet-plate glass negative
From the Library of Congress photo archives.